Growing up I felt so different, I had all these experiences that no one else quite understood, and even though I have a diagnosis now, people still don’t understand.
Today I’m going to list a bunch of things that we want you to know:
1. Burnout – the smallest things can tire us out, leaving us exhausted for days, for example after a social event. Personally, I need a few days to rest and recuperate before I can get back to work. It can be really frustrating at times; people think we’re lazy, when all we need is a little extra time to rest.
2. Meltdowns – a meltdown is not the same thing as a tantrum. Meltdowns are a result of sensory overload, they are uncontrollable, and we lose control of our actions. Tantrums however are done with intent. It can be really infuriating when people just presume autistics are ‘throwing a tantrum for attention’, because really, meltdowns are horrible, our emotions are jumbled up and we cannot think rationally. And a little reminder, please do not stare!
3. Intelligence – please do not assume we are stupid, we aren’t. Everyone on the spectrum is unique and we all have different abilities, but this does not make us any less intelligent. On the other hand, we are not super human, so don’t assume this either. Again, we are all diverse, so before you make an assumption try talking to us first!
4. Processing – we need extra time to process things. We are NOT ignoring you, we are just processing the information and formulating an appropriate response.
5. Toys – yes, I said it – toys! I LOVE TOYS, and honestly I don’t care what people think. Toys keep me calm, toys keep me happy and toys make me feel safe. But… I hide it. Society is messed up, telling us we have to act in a certain way, like mindless zombies conforming to the societal rules. When I’m at home I can be my true self, which includes having regular conversations with my teddies!
6. Stimming – this sort of links in to the thing about toys, as I own quite a few “stim toys”. Self-stimulatory behavior, also known as stimming and self-stimulation, is the repetition of physical movements, sounds, or repetitive movement of objects (such as stim toys). This is normal, this is part of us, but most of the time we are ashamed and hide these behaviours. Sometimes I need to stim, sometimes I need to let go. Please do not stare or pass comment.
7. Understanding – only those with autism can truly understand. Not parents, not professionals, just the actual autistics themselves. You need to remember to listen to autistic adults, what we have to say is important. Remember: autistic children become autistic adults. We’ve been there, so trust us.
8. Do I Look Autistic Yet? – autism has no look, we are all different and unique in our own ways. How we look has nothing to do with our diagnosis, so please stop making silly comments about how we don’t look autistic, or that we look normal.
9. Emotions – people often presume we lack empathy, this would be incorrect. As I’ve previously stated we are all different. For me personally my emotions are intensified, they feel heightened. Sometimes I can’t put myself in someone else’s shoes, but that does not mean I lack empathy. I feel when someone else is upset and I want to comfort them, I feel when other people are distressed, I feel when people are happy and it makes me feel happy. Having a lack of empathy is an autism myth and it is wrong!
People can learn so much from autistic people. We are more than happy to answer questions and explain things. So next time you want advice, maybe try talking to an actually autistic individual, you may learn a thing or two!